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More Land Powers Given to Local
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In a bid to streamline the process to appraise and approve land for new constructions, the Ministry of Land and Resources announced yesterday that it was transferring part of its censor powers to provincial governments, and from now on it would focus on supervision.

A statement issued by the ministry said that starting from this year, provincial governments would be responsible for appraising land to be used for new constructions in their areas.

Instead of having to frequently apply to the State Council for approval, the provincial governments would now have to only collect the results and submit it to the ministry for appraisal once a year.

The ministry will focus on monitoring the overall situation, for instance, the scale of added land for new constructions and how to compensate farmers who lose their land.

The new arrangement would save a lot of work for the ministry, which originally had to shoulder all the checking up responsibility.

"This is a great reform of land management." a ministry official, who didn't want to be named, told Xinhua. "It's conducive to strengthening macro-management of land, reinforcing the responsibility of provincial governments by reducing the approval process and enhancing the administrative efficiency," he was quoted as saying.

The new arrangement has changed their awkward role from just an "information collector" to an important "threshold", he said.

"It's good for the ministry to switch its function and put more efforts into land management," he said.

A series of measures were taken last year to cool down the overheated fixed-assets investment sector and the illegal acquiring of arable land.

The ministry has introduced a nationwide land regulatory system by setting up nine regional supervision bureaus across the country.

(China Daily January 23, 2007)

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